NATIONAL BIRD FLYING: The second bald eagle ever hatched at Lake Chabot near Castro Valley got revved up for the Fourth of July with a new move: It started flying.
"It fledged just in time for the Fourth of July," said Doug Bell, the East Bay Regional Park District's wildlife program manager. "How patriotic is that?"
The bald eagle, after all, has been our national bird since 1782.
The eaglet's first flight was observed July 1 by a member of the team of park staff members, biologists and volunteers who have monitored the chick from its eucalyptus tree nest at Lake Chabot Regional Park since April. Last year, another chick with the same parents hatched in a nearby nest.
The park district was especially eager to crow about its happy news with a July 4 news release because things have been a little tense at the park system lately.
Unionized park district workers had threatened to strike July 4 and 5 but called off the work stoppage after reaching a new contract deal late the previous Monday -- just hours after the eaglet's first flight.
So that means park managers, park workers and the eagle parents were happy for the holiday.
And by the way, the park district reports, the new eaglet is a boy.
CRUMBS FROM BART TALKS: We at The Eye were like the rest of the public in that we were closed out of the marathon BART labor negotiations earlier this month, and crumbs of news were hard to come by.
But we can report BART managers had an order of McDonald's food delivered to them on July 2 at the Caltrans building in Oakland where talks took place.
And later that night, about 11 p.m., several workers from a Vietnamese restaurant were seen delivering boxes with a large food order.
All we can say is that the food was enough to sustain the negotiators until they knocked off at 3 a.m. with no deal.
For the media, it's a little easier to see who and what is entering or leaving the building for BART contract negotiations than it was four years ago.
In those last contract talks in a private Oakland building, BART managers and union officials came and left through separate building entrances -- a sign of the deep cultural divide between labor and management at the transit agency.
This year, both sides entered and left through the same main door at Caltrans regional headquarters in Oakland.
Using the state building was the idea of state mediators.
Fast and not-so-furious: Richmond police Chief Chris Magnus is on a roll.
Widely lauded for leading a department that has helped drive down homicides in a city once known as the state's most dangerous, Magnus, it seems, is ready to take on speeding drivers, too.
On a recent Saturday, Magnus reported his latest exploits to thousands of his North and East Neighborhood neighbors via email to the popular N & E Yahoo Group.
Magnus wrote that he and his partner, Terrance Cheung, were walking from their favorite coffee shop, Catahoula Coffee, with some canine friends when they heard squealing tires and roaring engines followed by a crash.
It was an "older model silver Mustang" that crashed over a curb in the 600 block of 35th Street, Magnus reported, then headed north at a high rate of speed. "Needless to say, I was NOT happy about this," Magnus wrote. "I jumped in my car and located the suspect vehicle pulled over to the side of the street on Garvin (Avenue) near 38th (Street)."
The driver and his passenger then headed east on Garvin Avenue and north on San Pablo Avenue into the city of San Pablo, Magnus wrote.
Magnus said San Pablo police made the traffic stop near Market Avenue and 23rd Street ("I don't pull people over in my unmarked Ford Fusion hybrid!" Magnus wrote).
"(Richmond) officers then responded to take it from there, and they made the arrest" of the driver, Magnus wrote.
The car's passenger had a neat excuse for the reckless driving.
"Passenger stated that they were in a hurry to get to the mall to 'buy the new Air Jordan shoes' and acknowledged they had 'taken off kinda fast,' striking the curb when they lost control," Magnus wrote.
But all is safe now. Magnus reports that the driver, a man in his early 20s, was charged with "various driving-related offenses," and he vowed to his neighbors that cracking down on unsafe driving would be a priority.
Days later, Magnus was abashed by The Eye's questions about his exploits.
"I guess this is what I get for sharing with my neighbors," Magnus said. "I wasn't looking for large-scale coverage."
SNAKES ON A PLAIN: While headed out to the scene of a 250-acre grassfire in south Brentwood recently, The Eye's adrenaline rush quickly lost a bit of its bite, thanks to a concerned resident.
As The Eye started to trudge up a trail into the hilly terrain of tall grass and thorny weeds, one man who was watering his lawn in case the fire reached his home warned: "Be careful: There are a lot of rattlesnakes up there."
The Eye's gaze quickly turned from the plumes of black smoke and bright orange flames to watching the few feet where he was taking his next step. The Eye's ears also listened intently for any sudden rustling in the tall grass ... and of course, rattles.
Luckily, The Eye's journey shortly led him to a hole on the Deer Ridge golf course.
Staff writers Denis Cuff, Robert Rogers and Paul Burgarino contributed to this column.